The potential clinical use of stem cells for cell transplantation therapies to replace defective genes in myopathies is an area of intense investigation. Precursor cells derived from non-muscle tissue with myogenic potential have been identified in many tissues, including bone marrow and dermis, although the status of these putative stem cells requires clarification. The incorporation of circulating bone-marrow derived stem cells into regenerating adult skeletal muscle has been demonstrated in mice but the contribution of donor cells is so minimal that it would appear clinically irrelevant at this stage. The possibility of a true stem cell subpopulation within skeletal muscle that replenishes the satellite cells (conventional muscle precursors on the surface of myofibres) is also very attractive as a superior source of myoblasts for muscle construction. A full understanding of the intrinsic factors (i.e. gene expression within the stem cell) and extrinsic factors (i.e. signals from the external environment) which control the commitment of stem cells to the myogenic lineage, and the conditions which favour stem cell expansion in vivo is required before stem cells can be seriously considered for clinical cell therapy.